Text Editors

Writing Python code typically involves what it known as a Text Editor. Our recommendation for a text editor is either Sublime Text 3, which costs money but is free to use, or Microsoft VS Code.

The functional difference between these two editors is small — they both accomplish the same things, effectively. Which one you chose is a matter of personal taste. There are other editors, like vim, Atom, or emacs, which you may chose to use instead. Whatever works best for you is best.

I personally use and vastly prefer Sublime Text 3 to all other options available. It’s easily my favorite editor. If it didn’t exist though, I’d be using VS Code.


There are a few “soft requirements” for a text editor to have, when working professionally (or recreationally), with Python code:

  • Support for “soft tabs”
  • Support for visible whitespace (this is crucial when working with Python files)


  • Support for “rulers”, which show a vertical line after the 79th character, as PEP8 recommends.
  • Built-in linter for showing syntax errors as you type.
  • Built-in support for Flake8, which enforces PEP8 standards as you type.

Sublime Text 3


Sublime Text doesn’t support all of these things by itself, but it comes with a great system called Package Control, which allows for easy installation/management of third-party plugins.

Sublime Text 3 Plugin Recommendations

  • Package Control
    Sublime’s Package Manager — can be installed via **
  • Anaconda
    Fantastic “Python IDE” for Sublime Text, which offers code linting, PEP8 support, and auto–completion. Works great with Pipenv (and the subl launcher). Highly recommended.

Additionally Useful Plugins

  • GitSavvy
    Allows you to git push/pull/stage right from Sublime Text.
  • GitGutter
    Places the current git status of edited lines in your gutter. Very useful.

Sublime Text 3 Tricks

subl Launcher

Once installed, the command–line subl launcher will allow you to easily open up projects from your terminal (e.g. $ subl .). In addition, it also will inform plugins like Anaconda of which Python interpreter to use, based on the currently activated virtual environment.

To enable this shortcut, if you’re on a Mac, do the following:

$ ln -s "/Applications/Sublime Text 3.app/Contents/SharedSupport/bin/subl" /usr/local/bin/subl

Then, the subl command will be available to you, always.

PEP8 Rulers

According to PEP8, all lines of Python should typically be set to a maximum length of 79 characters (72 if documentation).

Let’s configure Sublime Text to display these rulers. Go into Preferences ➞ Settings, and add the following JSON:

"rulers": [

Now, you’ll see nice vertical lines at 72 and 79 characters, informing you of how long your lines are!

Microsoft Visual Studio Code (VS Code)


Microsoft VS Code guides you through setting up the Python package, built by Microsoft themselves, the first time you run it.

VS Code comes built in with git support and a package system that allows you to customize the editor to your liking. It is built upon Electron (just like Github’s Atom editor) and thus works on various platforms.

Microsoft VS Code Extensions Recommendations

  • Python Extension for Visual Studio Code
    by Microsoft Linting, Debugging (multi-threaded, remote), Intellisense, code formatting, refactoring, unit tests, snippets, Data Science (with Jupyter), PySpark and more.
  • vscode-flake8
  • MagicPython
    Syntax highlighter for cutting edge Python.
  • Python Extension Pack
    Don Jayamanne’s extension pack installs all the useful Python packages for VS Code in one fell swoop.

Additionally Helpful Plugins

  • Jupyter
    Data Science with Jupyter on Visual Studio Code.
  • Django Template
    Django template language support for Visual Studio Code.
  • Django Snippets
    Common Django snippets for everyday use.

Microsoft VS Code Tricks

Select a version of Python using Ctrl + Shift + P:
Python: Select Interpreter

You can run your code using the integrated terminal. Open it using Ctrl + `.

Microsoft VS Code Launcher

Mac: After installing VS Code, running code from the terminal as easy as typing code


PEP8 compliant rulers can be added to VS Code by adding the following lines to your User Settings:

"editor.rulers": [72, 79]